You’re A Wizard, Harry! – Butterbeer Pancakes & Hagrid’s Hungryman Stew with Pumpkin-Potato Mash

Fall’s right around the corner folks. We’re almost there.

The thought prompted an idea for a Harry Potter movie binge watch this past weekend – with Harry Potter-themed food and all.

Honestly, though, this was all just a poorly veiled excuse to not leave the apartment.

I give us a B, because we were conked out by The Half-Blood Prince. But we did much better than I thought – and when I wasn’t watching, I was cooking. It was a very magical day.

I love the fairy-tale food you see in movies and shows – doesn’t butterbeer sound like it should exist? J.K. Rowling is a genius. Side note – if you look closely, I think the stage drink is actually orange juice.

If I were to guess the flavor profile of butterbeer, I’d think it would be butterscotch-y.  I used butter flavoring – but there’s also some cream element from the foamy topping you see in the movies. And I’d think it would have spices in there like vanilla, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon.

I don’t know what the hell is in butter flavoring, and I don’t want to find out. But I think it’s an underused additive – super, super savory, and reminiscent of breakfast foods. We should all use it more often.

The night before we packed it in, I gave always-hungry Matt his run of the produce section and butcher counter to pick out the foods he’d like in a meaty, vegetable-y stew – believing that as long as I added enough beef stock, tomato paste, garlic and herbs, we’d probably be in OK shape.

The day of, I threw the meats and vegetables in a crockpot to go low and slow. I served it over a pumpkin-potato mash, and it was super rustic and awesome-tasting. He went heavy on the mushrooms, which is never a bad idea. And it’s named in honor of my favorite oaf Hagrid, the cutest man-giant alive today.

I hope you HP fans enjoy. 😊

F o r  t h e  B u t t e r b e e r  P a n c a k e s

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  P a n c a k e s

  • Prepared pancake mix of your choosing (other ingredients per package directions)
  • 1 tablespoon butter flavoring
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

F o r  t h e  W h i p p e d  C r e a m

  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon cinnamon

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Mix the ingredients (per package instructions), adding the additional ingredients spices the end. Combine vigorously with a whisk. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes so the batter has a chance to thicken.
  2. To make the whipped cream, put the heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, and run on high speed for 5 or so minutes, until the cream is whipped. Stir in the remaining spices and let sit in fridge while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  3. Heat a griddle and add the butter. Once the butter is foaming, pour a ladle-full of pancake batter into the hot pan. Once bubbles appear in the center of the pancake, flip it to the other side to finish cooking. Repeat until all batter is gone.
  4. To serve the pancakes, add a dollop of the whipped cream on top of stacks of four pancakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with maple syrup, if desired.

F o r  H a g r i d ‘ s  H u n g r y m a n  S t e w  w i t h  P u m p k i n – P o t a t o  M a s h

Serves 2 to 4.

F o r  t h e  P u m p k i n – P o t a t o  M a s h

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 1 28 oz. can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 / 2 stick butter, salted or unsalted, melted
  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put the quartered potatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Cook until tender and drain.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. With a hand mixer, combine the ingredients on high speed until few potato chunks remain. Taste for seasonings, adjusting as necessary.
  3. Set aside until stew is ready or eat on its own.

F o r  t h e  S t e w

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 2 lbs. boneless stew meat of your choosing, cut into large cubes (red meat is preferred, we used beef ribeye)
  • 3 lbs. hearty vegetables of your choosing, cut into large bite-sized pieces (we used small Vidalia onions, quartered Spanish onion, sliced carrots, whole white button mushrooms and fresh spinach leaves)
  • Approximately 1 liter beef stock (enough beef stock to cover halfway up meat and vegetables)
  • Approximately 10 stems thyme, 5 stems sage, 3 stems rosemary tied into a bouquet garnier (tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal)
  • 1 head garlic, skins removed and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Shredded parm reg, if desired
  • Minced rosemary, if desired

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put all the ingredients in a crockpot, stirring so everything has a chance to combine. Put the slow cooker on high, cover with the lid, and cook for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is falling apart.
  2. Serve ladlefuls of the stew over the pumpkin-potato mash, sprinkling with parm reg and minced rosemary, if desired.

 

Philly Cheesesteak (According to a Local)

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about the authentic Philly cheesesteak experience.

My boyfriend, thankfully, is an expert in the topic having grown up not too far from downtown Philly in Wilmington, Delaware. And boy am I eager to learn.

He was insistent on a few things – namely that the beef must be sliced as thin as possible, and the cheese be gooey. Too much liquid would lead to soggy, undesirable buns. And the only rolls you are allowed to use are called Amoroso’s Rolls. Unable to get my hands on those rolls here in D.C., I settled for Portuguese rolls I found at the Whole Foods bakery. They have an airy, crisp crust and fluffy inside.

The exact response I received when I asked about a suitable substitute roll –

Well if it’s on an Amoroso Roll, you don’t need to worry about it getting soggy.

Alright. I get the point.

If you have a Taylor Gourmet in your vicinity, know that he ardently vouches for their Philly Cheesesteaks when he needs his fix.

To accompany the beef? Well, peppers are a no-no. Sautéed white onion, only. That, and no Cheeze Whiz – a misconception, apparently. Kraft Singles it is. And lots, lots of it.

But, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. So I added Worcestershire sauce and fresh garlic to this – I wanted their flavor profile here to up the savoriness factor.

My favorite part about this sandwich are the proportions. The sliced ribeye dominates, but the cheesy Kraft Singles glue the beef, onions and garlic together in a magical way. I couldn’t ask for a yummier, oozier sandwich.

How did he do, Philly cheesesteak aficionados? Is this as authentic as it gets? 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 2 sandwiches.

  • 2 hoagie rolls of your choosing
  • 3 / 4 pound boneless ribeye, sliced very thin
  • 1 / 2 medium onion, sliced thinly in half moons
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Kraft American Single slices (yellow or white, but white is preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions and sautee for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat until translucent. After 10 minutes, add the garlic and continue to sautee for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside for later. In the same pan, add the sliced beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Brown on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and almost all of the liquid is evaporated.
  3. Off the heat, add the Kraft Singles and the onion and garlic mixture, stirring until the Kraft Singles begin to melt into the beef and vegetables. This should only take 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Distribute the beef topping evenly on the rolls, smushing down to adhere the filling to the bread.
  5. Serve hot.

 

 

 

Ramen on Empty Burger

We’ve watched food trends explode over the past few years. Ones that come to mind – the cupcake frenzy of 2008 singlehandedly instigated by Georgetown Cupcakes, toasts, matcha, kale and cronuts.

I’m a dupe for social media shareables of searing-hot raclette cheese poured over some carb-packed vehicle. Raclette NYC does this right – so right. That, and Momofuku’s Milk Bar, which is – for better or for worse – two blocks from where I live. They dole out the most addictive and sedating cookies and cakes a human being will ever taste.

But of all the food trends I’ve seen come and go, my biggest regret is that I didn’t hop on the ramen burger train when I had the chance.

I had the intent while working part-time in New York to head to the celebrated birthing place of ramen burgers – Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. This never happened.

With no imminent plans to head to New York, I made this at home. I know I’m very late to the party here. I’m like Europeans screening U.S. blockbusters – always lagging behind.

But even though I’m obsessed with food, I’ve embraced my indifference to food trends – & I’m fully aware I’m just as uncool as I always knew I was. 😉

This recipe is fluid – approach it as a good use-up-your-pantry & freezer opportunity. I had frozen ground pork and scallions that I incorporated into the patty mixture to mirror the ingredients you’ll find in a bowl of ramen. The mayonnaise sauce is made from staple Asian condiments I always have stocked on the door of my fridge.

And if you’re familiar with the TV show Bob’s Burgers, I hope you might have picked up on my tribute to his pun-tastic daily burger specials in this recipe title. If you haven’t watched it – do.

I like to think I approach food the same way Bob does – content to cook the same ho-dum thing over and over again. All the while, Jimmy Pesto’s restaurant across the street grasps at the flashiest dish that will bring customers in. Bob refuses to sell out and play that game. He knows good food will always be good food.

You should also know – Thrillist did their homework & compiled a list of every single burger special featured on the show. You’re welcome.

This one’s for you, Bob! You just keep doing you!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 1 ramen burger.

  • 1 package ramen noodles
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 3 oz. ground pork
  • 3 oz. ground beef (80% lean to 20% fat)
  • 1 slice American cheese
  • 2 oz. microgreens
  • 2 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon wasabi
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon chili oil
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 / 2 scallion stalk, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Dash of olive oil
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, discarding the seasoning packet. Strain the noodles. Once cooled, mix with the beaten egg, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper. Set aside.
  2. Combine the mayonnaise, wasabi, Sriracha, chili oil & sesame oil. Set aside.
  3. Combine the pork, beef, scallion, and pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Form into a round, large golf-sized ball and set aside.
  4. Pull the caps off the mushrooms and slice thinly. Sautee on low heat with the soy sauce, a dash of olive oil, and pinches of sugar, salt and pepper. Once browned, set aside.
  5. In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Take 1 / 2 of each of the noodle mixture and place them inside two large patty-sized mason jar lids inside the pan. Smush the noodles down to compact them. Cook the noodle buns for 4 minutes on medium heat until golden brown. At this point, remove the lids as the ramen buns should be able to retain their shape. Flip the buns over and finish cooking, about 4 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside for plating.
  6. Heat a tablespoon of flavorless oil, like canola oil or vegetable oil, in the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Once heated, place the meat in the pan, smashing with the underside of the spatula until it’s as about 1 1 / 2 to 2 inches thick. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, then flip and brown until cooked through for another 8 to 10 minutes. Place a slice of American cheese on top of the patty and cook for an additional minute until the cheese is completely melted.
  7. Put 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise mixture on each of the buns, topping one bun with the burger patty, then the sautéed mushrooms and the microgreens. Serve hot.

Labor-Inducing Beef Stroganoff

My mom first went into labor with me while she was eating beef stroganoff.

Forget pickles. Forget donuts. No ice cream. No bon bons – whatever the hell those are.

Beefed-up stroganoff is what she’d eaten over the course of her entire pregnancy.

My understanding is it came into fashion a few decades ago. Now, I see it making a comeback at high-end restaurants. It makes sense because it’s one of the home-iest dishes around.

That, and there’s like a pint of sour cream in it.

Chefs around the world practice the art of mise en place – which is ensuring you have all your ingredients washed, chopped and within hands reach before starting to cook. It will make cooking this dish, and for that matter every dish, so much more expedient and effortless.

I also bet you could pull all the meat & vegetable ingredients together in a crockpot, cook for hours while you’re at work, and spoon over cooked egg noodles when you get home.

I’m not one of those people, though. For now, this is a start to finish recipe for those of you, like me, who are not morning people and don’t do things like “meal plan.”

This is a classic American variation of stroganoff, similar to what my mom made for us growing up. It was the rare occasion that she did, because the male members of my family inherited the most abhorrent food aversion known to man – a dislike of dairy.

There are Finnish versions that include chopped pickles, Brazilian versions that substitute shrimp or chicken for beef, and British versions that gravitate toward a white sauce infused with wine.

You can’t go wrong or screw up this recipe. It’s impossible. Take a deep breath, and realize the only thing you have to do right now is cook, then eat this crazy-good food when it’s done.

You don’t have to delivery a baby either, so that’s another plus.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 really hungry people.

  • 1 1 / 2 lb. sirloin steak, cubed
  • 1 lb. egg noodles
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 / 2 pint full-fat sour cream
  • 1 / 2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 / 2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, minced
  • Salt (used throughout)
  • Pepper (used throughout)

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Dry the beef cubes well. Season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Once the oil is very hot, put the beef cubes in the pan. Don’t crowd the beef, otherwise they will not brown. In batches, brown the cubes on all sides. Set the meat aside. The beef will not be fully cooked through at this point.
  2. In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Throw in the mushrooms, onions, thyme, and a heavy pinch of salt and pinch of pepper, sautéing until the vegetables are translucent and the mushrooms have shrunk and released most of their liquid.
  3. Add the beef cubes back in, juices and all, as well as the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Let this cook uncovered for 30 minutes on medium-high heat until half of the liquid remains.
  4. While the stroganoff sauce is reducing, heat a pot of water to boil and cook the egg noodles according to package instructions. Drain, and throw the pasta back in the pot, adding 4 tablespoons of butter and mixing until the butter melts. Set the pasta aside.
  5. After 30 minutes, add the sour cream and Dijon mustard. Stir until incorporated. Cook on medium-high heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. To plate, put egg noodles in the bottom of a wide shallow bowl, topping with the stroganoff sauce and plenty of beef cubes. Don’t be shy about adding more spoonfuls of sauce. You cannot have too much of the stuff. Sprinkle each plate with minced parsley.

Beef Bourguignon-Inspired Risotto

Cold weather food. There must be something instinctive about craving it. Even two hundred years ago, if you wanted fresh produce in the winter, you were probably shit out of luck.

Instead, you were most likely consigned to eat some stew with tough cuts of meat from the animal you slaughtered last season, and cooked it for hours or days with a bunch of vegetables and dried herbs.

Speaking of, have you ever heard of perpetual stew?

My appetite has recently led me to cook stewed beef and warm, tomato-y pasta dishes. Things that cook low-and-slow, and have little bit more oomph than yet another “30-minute meal.” Although, I know those recipes have their time and their place. No judgement here.

As I’ve been doing lately, I frankensteined two of my favorite dishes together – this one satisfies the craving for both beef bourguignon and risotto.

I basically drew out the elements of beef bourguignon – the traditional vegetables, herbs and beef – and put them into a red-wine and beef stock infused Arborio rice, cooked in the same style as traditional Italian risotto.

Let the vegetable sautee meld flavors together!

This of course can and should be tweaked according to your own favorite, passed-down beef bourguignon recipe, if you have one. I’m using a variation of Ina Garten’s beef bourguignon here, which if I remember correctly she adapted from Julia Child.

Trust me, when you serve this dish at the right time in the right place, it will hit the spot.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This recipe serves 2, double the recipe to serve 4, and so on. 

The only caveat is the more rice you add, the longer it takes for the risotto to cook, so adjust accordingly.

  • 2 high-quality beef filets
  • 4 oz. good quality bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 lb. porcini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and medium diced
  • 1 / 4 cup water
  • 1 / 2 bag frozen pearl onions (or fresh pearl onions, if you can find them)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine (Cote du Rhone is best for this dish)
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 / 2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for vegetable sautee
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 375*.
  2. Remove the filets from the fridge and allow to sit until they are room temperature. Pat the filets dry and season liberally with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Brown the bacon on medium low heat until crispy in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the butter. Once melted, stir in the rice, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or so until the rice has had a chance to warm through and toast.
  4. In the meantime, pour the beef stock into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering. Keep it at this temperature throughout the cooking process.
  5. Next, add the red wine, thyme and minced garlic to the pot with the rice. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  6. Start ladling in the warmed beef stock, one ladle at a time, waiting until the rice gets slightly dry to add the next ladle of stock.
  7. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan. Add the water, and sautee the carrots on medium heat until they’ve tenderized, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or so. This is where, if you have fresh pearl onions as opposed to frozen pearl onions, you would add them as well to give them a chance to cook through. Salt the vegetables liberally.
  8. Add the mushrooms after 20 minutes of cooking the carrots and onions, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Set aside the vegetables and juices to a separate plate.
  9. Heat a cast iron pan until searing hot. Add the vegetable oil to the pan. Just before the oil begins to smoke, add the filets and cook on each side for approximately 1 to 2 minutes, so that the filets achieve a dark crust on all sides. Make sure you turn your overhead vent on, it will be smoky!
  10. Finish the filets in the oven and cook until desired doneness – for medium rare, this will take about 7 to 8 minutes.
  11. Once all the beef stock has been incorporated into the risotto, start to test the rice to make sure it’s achieved al dente consistency. This entire process should take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes.
  12. Once the rice is done, add the carrots, mushrooms, 1 / 2 bag frozen pearl onions (if using), all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano Reggiano, stirring lightly until everything is heated through, about 10 minutes.
  13. Remove the filets from the oven and let sit on a plate covered in foil. Once the steaks have set for 5 to 10 minutes, slice thickly against the grain.
  14. Serve the dishes hot topped with the sliced filets, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh minced parsley.